Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, is a psychotherapy designed to alleviate the symptoms and distress associated with traumatic life experiences (Shapiro, 1989a, 1989b), and heal from psychological trauma.

Studies on EMDR therapy have shown that between 77% and 100% of trauma victims and combat veterans no longer suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after three to twelve sessions.

EMDR therapy is now recognised as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experience by different organisations, such as the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization.http://www.emdr.com/frequent-questions/

Shapiro developed the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model to describe and predict the effects of EMDR therapy. The model explains:

  • Some memories associated with adverse life experiences may remain unprocessed due to the high level of disturbance experienced at the time of the event
  • If the information related to a distressing or traumatic experience is not fully processed, the initial perceptions, emotions and distorted thoughts will be stored as they were experienced at the time of the event
  • The unprocessed experiences then become the basis of current dysfunctional reactions and the cause of many mental symptoms

How EMDR works

EMDR therapy alleviates mental symptoms by processing the components of the distressing memory and storing the experience with appropriate emotions.

  • EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment that identifies and processes memories of negative and traumatic events that contribute to present problems
  • Bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements and audio tones are used during one part of the session
  • After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, the client will be asked to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his/her eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth, or other stimulus such as taps or tones
  • As this happens, internal associations arise and the client begins to process the memory and disturbing feelings
  • These new associations result in complete information processing, new learning, elimination of emotional distress, and development of cognitive insights
  • The meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level, and the patients are empowered by the very experiences that once debilitated them, without the need to speak in detail about the traumatic experiences (which can be retraumatising if not done correctly)

The focus during EMDR therapy can include past events, current triggers, and future needs.http://www.emdr.com/frequent-questions/

What EMDR can help

  • Alleviate post-traumatic stress
  • Recover from depression and anxiety where trauma is the main contributor
  • Resolve phobias, performance anxiety or self-confidence problems